Wendy Shalit recently told me about Miley Cyrus wanting to make a "younger, cleaner version of Sex and the City," and it really made me wonder. When the movie version of the wildly popular HBO series “Sex in the City” first hit theaters, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about how the movie is appealing to a much younger range of girls than expected. When the show originally aired it was on the pay-for channel HBO but now the cable channel TBS plays “sanitized” episodes on nearly every night of the week, where a much younger audience has far greater access to it.
But the real issue is whether or not marketers are targeting
this age group for the "Sex" movie. They claim not to be, but according to the Journal
they are advertising during shows that are specifically geared to this
demographic, such as "Gossip Girls" and MTV’s "My Super Sweet 16" (a show about
spoiled girls’ Sweet 16 birthdays -– a whole blog in itself).
In some ways it is rather curious that this show appeals to these girls since the characters are more than twice their age and have carved out some pretty bleak lives for themselves (loveless, childless, neurotic, etc). What, besides their (overly-revealing) wardrobes could possibly be attractive about them? But I guess you can dress up just about anyone in a $400 pair of shoes and have them swill delicious-looking cocktails and girls and women alike will be drawn to them.
And that of course is the problem. While older and wiser audiences might be able to appreciate various shades of irony or poignant contraction, younger audiences will fixate on the glitz and glamour and fail to recognize the underlying emptiness and angst. As a boy, my husband used to watch reruns of M*A*S*H and was mesmerized by its uniforms, rugged old-fashioned jeeps, and occasional explosion; only later on did he realize that it was anti-war. My fear is that what M*A*S*H is to boys, “Sex in the City” is to girls. Even if the underlying message of the TV series and/or movie is a cautionary tale about female misery in modernity (or at least it should be), the young audiences now being so unscrupulously targeted will miss the moral and get hooked on a very, very false allure. And since part of that allure consists of nonchalant banter about the advantages of threesomes or the best personal pleasure toy, you know our young girls are in for trouble.